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The Justice Beat Talk Show
Season 4

"Justice is turned back, righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter"

  Isaiah 59:14

Hosted by L. Elaine Sutton Mbionwu

Every Saturday 10:00 - 11:00 AM CST

Airing on Facebook Live     Replay on YouTube

Season 4 Speakers

Saturday 10:00 AM cst
beginning 9/2021
September 11, 2021

Aaron Poynter

Director of Re-entry Programming at South Central KY Workforce Development Board

E1 Prisoner Re-Entry

Aaron is a former police officer/sheriff in Warren County Kentucky where he worked upon graduating Criminal Justice Training at Western Ky University. Aaron began working for the Cumberlands and the South Central Ky Workforce Boards in early 2020, where he was recently promoted to Director of Reentry Programming. From his experience working in law enforcement, his passion to make an impact with justice involved individuals grew.
In addition to his full time role with the Workforce Boards, Aaron continues to serve his community as a part time Deputy Sheriff.
Aaron is the Adult Sunday school teacher & Outreach Director for his Church, is a KY Colonel, a member of the Russell Springs Masonic Lodge #941, a member of the board of directors for United Way of South Central Kentucky, The Vice President of the Young Professionals Of Lake Cumberland. Aaron is also a 2019 Graduate of Leadership Kentucky BRIGHT Program and 2021 Leadership Kentucky Elevate Program.

September 25, 2021

Mark Bookman

Lawyer & Author

E3 Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Marc Bookman, a Philly lawyer has dedicated his career to fighting the death penalty, first in the Defenders Association of Philadelphia and then, for the past 11 years, by running the nonprofit Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, with a mandate to shrink the number of statewide death sentences and help get prisoners off death row.
His new book reveals an absurd, broken system.
From the very first death-penalty appeal he worked on, Marc Bookman came to understand how crucial writing can be in life-and-death matters. The verdict form was missing a single “s” — an error that changed the meaning of the verdict enough to overturn the sentence. The case also left him with a sense that the entire system of capital punishment can be arbitrary and even absurd, a view that was cemented when he became part of the first team of lawyers handling homicide cases for the Defender Association of Philadelphia.
Over the years, he’s applied his writing skills to pieces published in The Atlantic, Slate, and Mother Jones, among others. His first book, A Descending Spiral: Exposing the Death Penalty in 12 Essays, published by The New Press. The essays — some dealing with cases he worked on, most cases researched through public records — circumvent the moral arguments for and against the death penalty and reveal the foibles of the system in practice.

October 2, 2021

Evita Tolu

Lawyer, Immigrant

E4 Guardianship

In 1993 Evita Tolu came to the United States at the age of 25 with $200 in her pocket. After landing a job at a big St. Louis law firm as a paralegal, Evita was admitted into St. Louis University School of Law. She graduated magna cum laude in 2000 in the top 3% of her class. After working for two big law firms, Evita realized that she wanted to have more responsibility and client interaction. In 2006, Evita started her own immigration law practice and never looked back. As a former immigrant Evita Tolu knows what it takes to succeed in the United States while staying in compliance with immigration laws.
Evita's personal trauma with domestic violence and
having experienced family court corruption, a system unsupportive of the victims of domestic violence - believing the court perpetuates domestic violence by proxy through legal professionals involved in the process. Evita expanded her legal practice to represent victims of domestic violence and children whose voices are silenced in family courts and whose safety is jeopardy. Evita is working with several legislators in Missouri to change Missouri laws to guarantee accountability for family court professionals and to protect our children.

October 9, 2021

Dominique Morgan

Executive Director at Black & Pink

E5 LGBTQ+ Communities in Prison

Dominique Morgan (She/Her) is an award-winning artist, activist, and TEDx speaker. As the Executive Director of Black and Pink, the largest prison abolitionist organization in the United States. She works daily to dismantle the systems that perpetuate violence on LGBTQ/GNC people and individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Partnering her lived experience of being impacted by mass incarceration (including 18 months in solitary confinement), with a decade of change-making artistry, advocacy, and background in public health, she continues to work in spaces of sex education, radical self-care, and transformative youth development with intentions of dismantling the prison industrial complex and its impact on our communities. Ms. Morgan is a 2020 Ten Outstanding Young Americans Award recipient, NAACP Freedom Fighter Award recipient, and 2020 JM Kaplan Innovation Prize recipient. Her new album Pisces In E Flat Major is available on all platforms and her book “Sex Ed for System Facing People” will be available in 2022. Find out more about Dominique at Check out her TEDxTalk on Resilience

October 16, 2021

Heather McKimmie

Director of Avid Program

E6 Disability in Prisons

Heather McKimmie has been an attorney with Disability Rights Washington since August 2009. Heather is currently the Director of the AVID Program, which focuses on advocacy for individuals with disabilities in Washington prisons, jails, and the Special Commitment Center. AVID advocates for criminal legal system reform by speaking directly to incarcerated individuals, inspecting conditions at correctional facilities, negotiating with corrections administrators, educating policy makers, producing videos, writing reports, and litigating when necessary. Prior to working at Disability Rights Washington, Heather practiced criminal defense at the trial and appellate levels. She also clerked for a superior court judge, worked in a personal injury law office, represented workers in unemployment compensation hearings, and conducted investigations for a public defender’s office. She graduated from University of Washington School of Law in 2005 and was a Notes and Comments Editor for Washington Law Review. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington with a BA in History with distinction in 2001.

October 23, 2021

David Morris

Licensed Psychologist & Attorney

E7 Fit-To-Serve (Part 2)

Dr. Morris is both a licensed psychologist and an attorney with training at the World Court at The
Hague in international law. His strength is developing entry-level and promotional programs that yield the best candidates with diversity in the outcome.
He is the only non-governmental person to be asked to address the General Assembly for
INTERPOL, according to the Secretary General of INTERPOL, in 2013. His address was how to improve the vetting of entry-level police candidates and promotional candidates.
Dr. Morris developed and implemented the programs used to select entry-level candidates in Iraq for four years. He spent three years on the ground in Iraq in order to assure the effectiveness of the program. In addition, Dr. Morris tested over 40,000 entry-level police candidates in Uganda.
He has worked with police jurisdictions throughout the U.S. and was recently asked to work with the City of New York on their entry-level police program.

October 30, 2021

Heather Hamel Robles

Attorney at The People's Law Firm in Phoenix, Arizona

E8 Prosecuting Protestors (Part 2)

Heather Hamel Robles grew up in a multi-racial family.
For Heather, the law was always a calling. But her life experience meant that her path in the law would always be focused on making change. This led her to one place: the University of California, Berkeley.
Heather attended Berkeley -- the American law school most associated with producing change-making lawyers; at a key time in American history. Her education continued as much outside of the classroom as within. After three years in the Bay Area, Heather brought her activism into her judicial clerkship with the Arizona Court of Appeals, and a prestigious associateship with national law firm Perkins Coie.
With no prior non-profit experience, Heather resigned from her six-figure associate position and formed Justice That Works. A 501(c)(3) dedicated to prison abolition, JTW aimed to end mass incarceration in Arizona through a lens of community accountability.
During her five years in the non-profit world, Heather continued to engage in community activism, participating in valley protests against anti-immigrant legislation, advocating for police and corrections reform, and traveling to Standing Rock to be in solidarity with the Indigenous water-protectors protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. In 2018, the PLF lured Heather away from her non-profit and activism work to return to the full-time practice of law. Moving seamlessly from front-line activism to legal advocacy, in just two years Heather has served as lead counsel on the largest civil rights settlement in the history of the City of Phoenix, second-chaired a federal civil rights trial, led litigation on a number of section 1983 civil rights matters, and helped author proposed criminal justice reform legislation for the Arizona State Legislature.

October 30, 2021

Steve Benedetto

Founder and Attorney of The People's Law Firm in Phoenix, Arizona

E8 Prosecuting Protestors (Part 2)

Steve Benedetto went to a prestigious private university, double-majoring in Political Science and English while building his resume with internships in government. He graduated cum laude from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, serving as a staff writer on the Law Journal and a member of the Moot Court honor society. He secured a competitive judicial clerkship with an Arizona Supreme Court Justice. He worked at three of the largest corporate law firms in Arizona, learning the ins and outs of litigation from senior lawyers who were charged with defending large companies in 7, 8, and 9-figure lawsuits. He defended railroads from debilitating injury claims brought by injured employees; healthcare companies from medical malpractice actions brought by injured patients; white-collar executives against fraud and embezzlement allegations; and multinational corporations against just about every type of wrongdoing one can imagine. In 2009, Steve left corporate practice to create a new kind of law firm. He spent the next five years representing people against criminal charges, and prosecuting civil claims on behalf of people injured by others’ recklessness. He worked tirelessly to help build a five lawyer, seven-figure law firm from scratch.By 2014, though, it became clear that something was missing, and after difficult conversations, Steve decided to start fresh. So, he left the law firm he had founded to construct an entirely new practice -- one that would be focused on representing people at ground zero of the new civil rights struggle.
Over the past 6 years, The People's Law Firm has provided substantial legal muscle to the movements for systemic change. The Firm has fought for accountability on behalf of countless survivors of police violence, and has stood in solidarity with the movements to reform our unjust and inequitable systems, with specific focus on the Movement for Black Lives.

November 6, 2021

Joyce Williams

Licensed Missionary at Cornerstone of Faith

E9 Second Look

Joyce Williams is 51 years old, mother of 4 adult children and 16 grandchildren. She is a Dietetic Tech at St Elizabeth Hospital, and serves as a Sunday school teacher and a Licensed Missionary at the Cornerstone of Faith COGIC. She has also started her own t-shirt making business.

November 13, 2021

Tara Graham MPH

JDI’s National Program Director

E10 Sexual Assault in Prisons

Tara Graham MPH, is JDI’s National Program Director, based in its Washington, D.C. office. She provides training and technical assistance to corrections agencies on preventing and responding to sexual abuse in detention. She has been working on the development and implementation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act standards for 15 years, including at the National PREA Resource Center. Her research experience includes interviewing homeless and runaway youth and incarcerated women about issues including drug use, sexual behaviors, and experience with physical and sexual violence. Previously, Tara served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania working on HIV/AIDS prevention with an emphasis on women and youth.

December 4, 2021

Victor Pate

Statewide Campaign Organizer for New York's Campaign for Alternative to Isolated Confinement;

E12 HALT-ing Solitary Confinement

Victor Pate brings years of organizing experience into his role as a NY Statewide Organizer and a formerly incarcerated individual, he is a founding member and Chairman of the National Action Network NYC Chapter Second Chance Committee, an active coalition member of several Criminal Justice, Prisoner Advocacy and Legislative Reform organizations. As a formerly incarcerated individual he has and is overcoming the many barriers and hurdles systemically in place to prevent people with current and previous Criminal Justice involvement to reintegrate fully and completely in society.

December 11, 2021

David Fathi

Director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project

E13 Religious Freedom in Prisons

David C. Fathi is Director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project, which brings challenges to conditions of confinement in prisons, jails, and other detention facilities, and works to end the policies that have given the United States the highest incarceration rate in the world. He worked as a staff lawyer at the Project for more than ten years before becoming director in 2010, and has litigated numerous prisoner rights cases throughout the United States. From 2012 to 2015 he represented the ACLU in negotiations leading to adoption of the United Nations Revised Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, known as the “Nelson Mandela Rules.”
From 2007 to 2010 Fathi was Director of the US Program at Human Rights Watch. The US Program works to defend the rights of particularly vulnerable groups in the United States, and has published groundbreaking reports on the death penalty, prison conditions, racial discrimination, the rights of immigrants, and many other human rights issues.

Fathi has lectured nationally and internationally on criminal justice issues. His op-eds have appeared in The Guardian, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle, and other major media outlets. He serves on the Executive Board of Penal Reform International, a UK-based NGO that works for criminal justice reform around the world. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.

September 18, 2021

Xhercis Mendez

Professor of Women and Gender Studies at California State University

E2 Transformative Justice

Xhercis Méndez is as an Associate Professor in Women and Gender Studies & Queer Studies and an affiliated faculty of African American Studies at California State University Fullerton. She is an organizer, activist, transdisciplinary scholar and decolonial feminist whose research focuses on developing decolonial feminist practices and methodologies for expanding our liberatory imaginations and building towards transformative justice.
During her time as an assistant professor of Philosophy and African American and African Studies at Michigan State University, she founded the Transformative Justice Speaker Series and is currently a consultant for the Transformative Justice initiative which seeks to expand the healing and accountability options available to and for survivors of gender-based violence, sexual assault and sexual misconduct within the university. Méndez is the founder of the #campusTJ Project, ( a consultancy advocating for an intersectional and de-colonial approach to gender-based violence and campus sexual assault.
She received her doctorate from the Philosophy, Interpretation and Culture Program at Binghamton University, along with certificates in Feminist Theory and Latin American and Caribbean Area Studies. Her research brings together the theory and political work of Women of Color, Transnational, and Decolonial Feminists, Sexuality Studies, Afro-Latinx/diasporic ritual practices and Liberation Philosophies in order to explore alternative grounds for the (re)making of power, social relations, and resistant possibilities.

September 25, 2021

Michelle Smith

Racial Justice Coordinator

E3 Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Michelle is a criminal system impacted advocate having been incarcerated twice, in Missouri and most recently in the federal system. Having experienced incarceration during the COVID-19 pandemic, she is intimately aware of the dire reality faced by our imprisoned loved ones as well as the egregious actions and apathetic behavior by the vast majority of institution staff and administrators. She is dedicated to using her experiences, knowledge, determination and voice in the struggle for justice and recognition of humanity. Michelle has recently been appointed to the position of Racial Justice Coordinator at Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, where she and her colleagues will continue to advocate for abolition of the death penalty in Missouri.
In addition, Michelle’s advocacy efforts extend to other areas, including exoneration for the wrongfully convicted, higher education for incarcerated and reentered individuals, humane and adequate healthcare, and decarceration. The latter included advocacy as part of Empower Missouri’s Smart Sentencing Coalition, where she lobbied for passage of HB 192 during the 2019 Missouri State Legislative session. This statute reformed the mandatory minimum sentencing policies and allowed for earlier parole hearings. Michelle is a graduate of From Prisons to PhD’s (P2P) Cohort 15 and is also on the Board of several organizations including Filling in the Gap, Missouri CURE, and 2nd Chance Freedom Foundation. She has been interviewed twice by local television stations to speak out about the pandemic inside of prisons and will continue to be a voice for those suffering from COVID in prisons.

October 2, 2021

Victor Jones

Education Special Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. (LDF)

E4 Guardianship

Victor Jones serves as Education Special Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. (LDF) and is based in New Orleans, Louisiana, whose works focuses on children’s rights and disability rights. Through engaging in integrated advocacy (litigation, public policy, and public education) Jones has educated hundreds of teachers and parents and lawmakers in Louisiana about education equity issues including immigrant children’s rights, special education, student discipline and due process, and about children’s Medicaid and access to mental health services. His work in children’s civil rights issues has been profiled at the local, state, and national levels. Prior to practicing law, Jones was a public school kindergarten teacher and a graduate student studying risk and resiliency in children and adolescents.
Victor holds a J.D. from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, a Master’s Degree in Education from Harvard University, and a B.A. in Literature from Xavier University of Louisiana. He is a published author, guest lecturer, and frequent media commentator on civil rights issues impacting children and young adults.

October 16, 2021

Sunjay Smith

Community Organizer and Founder fo Crip Justice

E6 Disability in Prisons

Sunjay Smith is a Native wheelchair user with quadriplegia. He founded Cripjustice ( which advocates and educates on law enforcement violence against people with disabilities. Sunjay believes everyone is entitled to justice.

October 23, 2021

Heather Taylor

Senior Advisor to the Public Safety Director in the City of St. Louis

E7 Fit-To-Serve (Part 2)

Heather Taylor is the Senior Advisor to the Public Safety Director in the City of St. Louis. Heather was employed with the Metropolitan Police Department - City or St. Louis (SLMPD) from 9/11/00 - 9/25/20. Heather was a vocal local and national advocate for police reform while an officer and police association president with the Ethical Society of Police - ESOP. Heather worked as a homicide sergeant for eight years, worked as a detective in Sex Crimes, Child Abuse, Juvenile, and other assignments within SLMPD.
While the President of the Ethical Society of Police Heather co-authored a 112-page and 60-page comprehensive evaluation of SLMPD. Those reports exposed rampant police corruption, racism, cronyism, and other biases in law enforcement that hindered community cooperation.
During her tenure as president of ESOP she introduced the ESOP Pre-Academy Recruitment Program, where prospective hires were taught courses on de-escalation, importance of ethics, community outreach, mental health awareness, and more.

October 23, 2021

Thomas V. Fuentes

President of Fuentes International, L.L.C.,

E7 Fit-To-Serve (Part 2)

Mr. Fuentes is President of Fuentes International, L.L.C., a consulting firm based in
Washington, D.C. He has been an executive consultant to several multi-national firms.
He is a member of the U.S. State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council and provides executive level consulting to law enforcement agencies throughout the world.
Mr. Fuentes has lectured at several prestigious universities over the years.
He served as Senior Law Enforcement Analyst for CNN from 2009-2019. In 2013 he joined Morris & McDaniel, Inc. as Vice President for International Development. The firm specializes in applicant and promotional testing programs.
Mr. Fuentes also served as an Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He also served as a member of INTERPOL’s Executive Committee. He was instrumental in opening the FBI’s Beijing Legal Attaché Office and many others throughout the world. He also served as a uniformed police officer in a Chicago suburb, Homewood, Illinois, for six years before entering on duty with the FBI.
Mr. Fuentes is a 2007 graduate of the FBI’s National Executive Institute and is a member of the FBI’s National Academy Associates and National Executive Institute Associates. He is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and served as a member of the IACP’s International Policing Committee, and the G-8 Law Enforcement Projects Group. Mr. Fuentes received the Society of Asian Federal
Officers’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.

October 30, 2021

Judge William "Billy" Murphy

Senior & Founding Partner of Murphy, Falcon, & Murphy

E8 Prosecuting Protestors (Part 2)

As the firm’s founder and senior partner, Judge William H. “Billy” Murphy, Jr. stands on a respected legacy of legal counsel. He has been a Baltimore trial attorney for decades, aggressively and effectively handling a broad range of ongoing cases.With a 90% success rate in state court cases, Judge Murphy knows how to navigate complex legal matters. He also holds a 40% success rate in federal cases, which is four times higher than the national average (9%). His 40+ years of practice in and out of the courtroom have equipped Judge Murphy to advocate for clients from all backgrounds and walks of life.Boasting a reputation as an expert litigator with a calm, calculated approach, Judge Murphy prides himself on getting to the truth. When you ask those who know him well to describe the man who leads a majority of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy’s toughest cases, you’ll hear the words “imaginative,” “leader,” “calm,” and “team builder.”

November 6, 2021

Senator Jamilah Nasheed

Missouri State Senator

E9 Second Look

Senator Jamilah Nasheed is a Democrat who represents the 5th Senatorial District in the Missouri State Senate. She resides in St. Louis, Missouri and was elected to the Senate after winning her primary in August of 2012. While being Senator, not only has she made a difference in the state's legislation, but she's also been a fierce advocate within the criminal justice reform community, and has also worked hard to "give a voice to the voiceless." Senator Nasheed is very passionate, and compassionate, about the people that she represents, and the causes that she fights for! She has helped to make a difference by helping to bring awareness to the plight of sex trafficking, strongly advocating for changes to be made in the state's expungement process, fighting for relative caregivers to be able to make educations and medical decisions for minors in their custody, and has also fought for the expansion of the A+ Scholarship program to Missouri's unaccredited school districts. And even though next year is her last year in the Senate, she is still making plans to be a fierce advocate for the criminal justice reform!

November 13, 2021

Eirik "E" Bjorkman

PREA Outreach Director at the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA)

E10 Sexual Assault in Prisons

E Bjorkman is the PREA Outreach Director at the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA) which is located on the unceded land of the Haudenosaunee and Kanien’kha:ka people, also known as Albany, New York. NYSCASA’s mission is to end all forms of sexual violence and exploitation, and to address the impacts of sexual assault. At NYSCASA, E leads a project that brings services to incarcerated survivors of sexual violence. E provides technical assistance to community based service providers, convenes PREA trainings, and responds to letters from incarcerated survivors seeking services. In supporting prevention work and the larger work of the coalition, E assists providers building relationships with corrections, and has been advocating for survivors for 6 years to address the systemic and root causes of sexual violence. In 2020, NYSCASA, in collaboration with the Seven Dancers Coalition, and Interrupting Criminalization: Research in Action, hosted the Conference-Gone-Virtual-Training-Series “Ending Violence Without Violence.” At this conference, E co-hosted and facilitated trainings focused on core principles of restorative justice, transformative justice, community accountability, and other community-centered approaches to violence prevention and response, as well as the importance of building communities that can prevent sexual violence, respond to harm, and heal trauma.

November 20, 2021

Abrahama Keys

Executive Director of Greater St. Louis NORML;
Missouri Events and Marketing Coordinator for PrestoDoctor

E11 Legalization of Marijuana Part 2

Abrahama Keys is cannabis advocate from St. Louis, Mo. She is the Executive Director of Greater St. Louis NORML. She is the Missouri Events and Marketing Coordinator for PrestoDoctor a national medical marijuana certification provider and  the owner and We Cann a business organization who’s purpose is to build meaningful connections and provide education within the cannabis community. Abrahama hosts patient events throughout the Greater St. Louis area and across the state of Missouri to facilitate networking, education, and patient engagement. She has a passion for cannabis and works daily to reduce the stigma surrounding the plant.

December 11, 2021

Daniel Mach

Director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief

E13 Religious Freedom in Prisons

Daniel Mach is the Director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. He leads a wide range of religious-liberty litigation, advocacy, and public education efforts nationwide, and often writes, teaches, and speaks publicly on religious freedom issues. Mr. Mach currently serves as an adjunct professor of law at the George Washington University Law School, focusing on constitutional law and religious liberty. Prior to his work at the ACLU, he was a partner in the Washington, DC office of Jenner & Block, where he specialized in First Amendment law.

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